Though Hiles does not know it, he is the last in a proud line of halfling leaders. Hiles grandfather led a large band of nomadic halflings for many years. The band flourished under his leadership, and he was well loved. As was his daughter, Iyllia, whom he was grooming to replace him. Iyllia was with child when the band arrived at the tower of Gasner The Blue, a wizard with whom they had often traded in the past. Hiles grandfather entered the tower to greet the wizard, but within he found only carnage, and demons.
Gasner, no great practitioner, had intentionally summoned these demons. And while Gasner successfully brought these creatures onto the material plane, his skills were insufficient to hold them captive. His entrails decorated the tower’s interior like streamers. The halfling leader fled the scene, and ordered his band beat a hasty retreat, but the demons were too quick. The fiends had the halflings surrounded before the last cart had fully rounded about.
The demons took pleasure in torturing some of the halflings, releasing or killing them only after the poor fool had offered his soul in exchange. Those who would not relent were tortured for days before finally succumbing to death. Those halflings who avoided torture, though, suffered the most dire fate. The demons took them back to the Abyss, and sold them as slaves in the Abyssal city of Dis. Among these was Iyllia, sold to a mighty Balor called Tarro’Ghk’Zheir. Two months later, Iyllia died as she was tortured during childbirth. She survived only long enough to name the child Hiles, and apologize to him for the life she was bringing him into.
The other mortal slaves of the demon kept the child alive, though none were willing to take on the responsibility of “raising” him. That level of caring is too dangerous in the Abyss. They were able to tell the child his name, but none knew his family name, and so for many years Hiles did not have one. It wasn’t until Hiles was five, when he was stamping the corpses of the damned to mush in an abyssal winepress, that Tarro’Ghk’Zheir mockingly gave him the name “Gorefeet.”
Tarro’Ghk’Zheir grew somewhat fond of Hiles, insomuch as demons can be fond. He found the little halfling’s cowardly nature amusing, and often passed time by finding creative ways to terrify Hiles. And despite his cowardly nature, Hiles did prove himself useful as a servant. Which is why, when Tarro’Ghk’Zheir traveled to the material realm to wreak havoc there, he brought Hiles with him. For his own part, Hiles never really knew much about his master’s schemes, concerning himself only with avoiding the demon’s wrath. He didn’t know what the strange underground complex was, or what the cultists in red robes were for. Then the adventurers came. They scattered the cultists, raided the underground complex, and killed Tarro’Ghk’Zheir.
All without noticing little Hiles.
Never having been free, Hiles didn’t know what to do. And he was far too scared to experiment, at least at first. He carried on with his assigned duties, believing that this was merely another game being played by his master. One which would end as soon as he strayed from his duties, and the mighty demon could threaten to flay his skin from his bones. As his supplies dwindled, and the corpse of the mighty demon began to decompose, Hiles began to wonder if it was a game after all. Perhaps, for whatever reason, the cruel demon was gone…a concept which terrified Hiles nearly as much as invoking the demon’s wrath. Hiles had never known life without Tarro’Ghk’Zheir, and couldn’t imagine how to function without him.
Fortunately, the comforting voice of Tarro’Ghk’Zheir came to him. It berated him for being a fool and believing for even an instant that any harm could befall the great Tarro’Ghk’Zheir. The voice then demanded that Hiles bring it a meal of freshly dead humanoid. Hiles ventured out of the dungeon for the first time, found a nearby village, and knocked out a young human man in the dead of night, bound him, and dragged him back to the dungeon in a bag of holding. He set the young man loose there, to be hunted down. Tarro’Ghk’Zheir likes his meat to experience terror before death.
Tarro’Ghk’Zheir’s voice has continued to speak to Hiles, and for twenty years the halfling has fed his master from dozens of villages and cities both near and far. More recently, the urban legends which tell of the halfling murderer call him “Speak No Evil,” because of the phrase which Hiles now repeats over and over again.
Hiles is cowardly and uncertain of himself. He will often apologize to his victims even as he murders them. Extended conversations with him are next to impossible. If he’s not murdering you, he’s fleeing from you. And if PCs manage to force him to do neither, anything he says will be incoherent. If captured outside of his dungeon, GMs may choose to insert clues to the location of his dungeon into his ramblings. No matter what, though, the phrase “Speak No Evil” should pass his lips frequently. It is his mantra.
Hiles is motivated in everything he does by terror. It is likely that he would flee if forced into a direct confrontation with anyone who seemed confident enough to stand up to him. He prefers to prey on those who are just as scared of him as he is of himself. If forced to deal with a capable foe, Hiles will attempt to separate that foe from any allies, and will always prefer to strike from the shadows.
If reduced to 50% health, Hiles will beg not to be hurt anymore.
Thoughts on Use
Hiles is designed as an encounter for characters levels 6-8. He’s a much more grim encounter than often comes up in D&D games, and should be used only with a group which is comfortable with high levels of violence and other disturbing content.
The encounter might come about when the players are hired to look into “Speak No Evil” by a city Hiles was recently hunting in. A more interesting plot hook might be Hiles capturing an NPC the players know personally. The player characters would then need to hunt Hiles down, hoping to save said NPC. If your group is amenable to being split, you might even have one of the PCs be captured by Hiles.
-Immediately after being killed, Tarro’Ghk’Zheir reformed in the Abyss. He raged at having been defeated, then returned to his citadel to carry on his affairs. He has completely forgotten about Hiles, and has never contacted him or even bothered to wonder what happened to him.
-Hiles once heard the phrase “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” Being as uneducated as he is, the halfling believes this to be a prescription for creating wards against evil. For reasons unknown, he latched on to the last part, and believes that tongues can be used to protect against evil. Once Tarro’Ghk’Zheir’s corpse is completely surrounded by tongues, he thinks, then the demon will never be able to hurt him again.
Every room of this twisted maze is essentially identical. Old and broken items lie in piles scattered randomly through each room and corridor. From simple items like benches, barrels, and shelving; to more distinguishing items such as torture equipment, sacrificial altars, and demonic statues. It is possible that some forgotten treasure is buried under a few of these piles. The blood and scraps from hundreds of humanoid creatures are scattered randomly throughout the dungeon as well, though no tongues will ever be found.
If the players enter the room marked with the pentagram, they find the rotting, still-flaming corpse of a Balor Demon, (Tarro’Ghk’Zheir). On the walls of this chamber are tongues. Dozens upon dozens of tongues, each one nailed to the wall, forming something which resembles a grotesque set of scales. If the characters take the time to count thoroughly, they will find three hundred and twenty eight tongues on the wall. Some of them appear to be as much as fifteen years old.
Note: I notice now, too late, that there’s a small portion of the map which I forgot to fill in. I apologize for that.
Hiles Gorefeet, AKA “Speak No Evil” (CR 7)
Male Halfling Rogue 8
CE Small humanoid
Init +8; Senses Perception +12 (+16 v. Traps)
AC 21, Flat Footed 16, Touch 16 [10 + Armor(5) + Dex(4) + Size(1) + Dodge(1)] (+2 v. Traps) (Can’t be Flat Footed)
hp 73 (8d8 + 24)
Fort +6 Ref +11 (1/2 damage on save)(+2 v. Traps)Will + 2 (+1 vs. fear)
Melee Wounding Dagger + 11/+6 (1d3 + 4/19-20 x2)(+1 bleeding damage, -1 HP each round, cumulative)
Ranged Dagger + 11/+6 (1d3 + 1 /19-20 x2)(10ft Increment)
Sneak Attack 4d6
Vital Strike When using attack action, may make one attack at highest BAB. Damage dice are rolled twice for this attack.
Str 16 (+3) Dex 19 (+4) Con 16 (+3) Int 8 (-1) Wis 8 (-1) Cha 10 (+0)
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +8; CMD 16
Feats Improved Initiative, Dodge, Weapon Finesse, Fleet, Weapon Focus (Dagger), Quick Draw, Vital Strike
Skills Acrobatics +17, Climb +8, Escape Artist +15, Perception +12 (+16 v. Traps), Sense Motive +12, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +19,
Languages Halfling, Common, Abyssal
SQ May move at full speed while using stealth, can draw weapons as a free action
Gear +2 Studded Leather Armor, 10x +1 daggers for throwing, +1 Wounding Dagger, 10ft of chains, 2 meat hooks, 20ft of demonshair rope (+5 to escape artist DCs), 5lb of caltrops, bodybag of holding, 80 gold pieces